Larry BraunerI launched my own LinkedIn group, Larry Brauner and Friends, as an experiment early last year. The group has since grown to over 800 members. We’ve explored a wide range of subjects and have hopefully demonstrated the feasibility of using a LinkedIn group for personal branding.

From the outset, I had in mind that when the time was ripe, I would begin conducting live interviews in the group with individuals who were thought leaders in their respective fields. Readers would be able to pose questions regarding a particular response or relevant to the overall conversation, simply by adding a comment. That time has finally come. :-D

Debugging Your Information Technology Job SearchI shall be interviewing over a number of weeks Janice Weinberg, a Westport, Connecticut career consultant and author of career books for IT professionals and managers. Her latest book, Debugging Your Information Technology Job Search, contains many innovative ideas for IT managers and executives through the CIO and CTO level who are seeking new jobs. The book also guides readers in identifying and correcting problems that are preventing them from generating interviews or — if they are obtaining interviews — impeding their ability to receive offers.

My questions to Janice will cover resume-writing, guidance in identifying employers likely to have suitable openings, and techniques for presenting oneself as a strong candidate in interviews. In providing her responses, Janice will draw upon her experience assisting IT managers* in obtaining computer operations, network operations center (NOC), service delivery, helpdesk, application development, program management, technology risk, and IT marketing/sales positions, as well as CTO and CIO jobs.

If you’d like to help your friends who are seeking management jobs, you may want to direct them to the interview: Advice for Managerial Job Seekers From Career Book Author

*Please note that although the emphasis in this author interview will be on providing guidance to IT managers, managers who are not seeking computer-related jobs can also expect to learn novel ideas to help them find more rewarding employment, since some topics I plan to cover will relate to general search strategies applicable to all managers.

Before you go, subscribe to Online Social Networking and “like” Larry Brauner on Facebook. :-)

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Larry BraunerI’ll share one of my idiosyncrasies with you, but promise you won’t laugh: Most people go to the library to find books — not me. When I accompany my kids to the library, I take my own books with me to read while waiting for them to finish.

Think that’s peculiar? I can assure you that there’s a totally rational explanation: It’s rare to find the trendy business books I like to read at a library. I’m much more likely to find them at a bookstore.

Still, my kids like to tease me about this seemingly odd behavior.

Looking for Trendy Business Books at the LibraryImagine my surprise when on a recent library visit, I found both Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk and Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel in the new arrivals section. Finding these books was a fluke, but nevertheless, I do plan to check back in that section in the future. ;-)

I read and thoroughly enjoyed Crush It!. The words of @garyvee helped to reinforce and refine my personal approach to business and social media branding. (I’m still in the middle of Six Pixels of Separation and liking it so far.)

Business developers are starting to approach me to explore joint ventures. They tell me how successful they are and then talk to me about changing my path, building a giant email list and making videos.

Gary, on the other hand, talks about building your personal brand through social media by being authentic and “delivering your content by video, podcast, or blog.” Being authentic guarantees to “differentiate you from everybody else, including those who share your niche or business model.”

Gary’s whole book resonated with me. However, his emphasis on building a personal brand around one’s passion got me to stop and reflect for several days about my own passion.

I realized that while I love social media, the web, and data crunching, I have a greater passion for helping people solve difficult problems. Throughout my career, I’ve been happiest when solving business problems has been at the core of my work.

Gary Vaynerchuk writes that loving your family, working super hard and living your passion are the keys to success. What’s your passion, and are you building your personal brand and future around that passion?

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Larry BraunerAs the year and the decade draw to an end, success is a topic on most people’s minds.

In 1,000 True Fans, Kevin Kelly develops a marketing paradigm for artists of all types, including musicians.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version.

Focus on connecting with people. Convert 1,000 lesser fans into true fans, which is all you need to earn a living.

In First, organize 1,000, Seth Godin generalizes the model and applies it to politics and business, “1,000 people voting as a bloc can change local politics forever. 1,000 people willing to try a new restaurant you find for them gives you the ability to make an entrepreneur successful and change the landscape of your town.”

Again, the focus is on connecting with people, “You don’t find customers for your products. You find products for your customers.”

Connecting with People through Social Media

What I really love about social media, in particular, blogging and social networking sites such as Facebook, is the facility with which they enable me to connect with people.

I can write an article or post a link that sparks a public conversation. Some remarks can then lead to private discussions via direct messages, email or telephone. If I help somebody or solve a problem, I now have a true fan.

Why 1,000 True Fans?

Don’t attach importance to one thousand. 1,000 is a round number, chosen arbitrarily, to take the number of fans or customers needed to earn a good living — which is fairly abstract — and make it more concrete.

Unfortunately, the emphasis on 1,000 true fans might lead us to “see the forest for the trees” but to lose sight of each individual tree. However, each individual we touch is, somewhat paradoxically, as important as the overall group.

Impact the life of even one true fan, and you have achieved a measure of success.

Real Social Media Success

The changes made possible by technology and social media in the ways we communicate and conduct business have been phenomenal. How glorious it would be if we could witness corresponding improvements in the human condition.

Sadly, the opposite is true. Technology and social media are used for evil as well as good, and our world and its peoples continue to have little respite from their fear, pain and suffering.

Planet EarthOur world is made up of individuals. We, as individuals, must seek ways to bridge our differences, to heal our conflicts, and to ameliorate our Planet Earth. We, as individuals, must connect with other individuals, through our businesses and otherwise, and help them improve their lives.

It would be super if, in our businesses, we could look beyond the bottom line and use social media to make the globe not only smaller, but kinder, saner and safer as well.

That would be real social media success.

May we all achieve success in 2010. Have a happy new year!

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Building a social media presence is much more a marathon than a sprint. There’s plenty of content to develop, place and promote, and there are lots of relationships to build.

Running a marathon requires physical endurance and much more mental endurance than most people think.

I ran two marathons, so I speak from personal experience. I’m crossing the 1985 NYC Marathon finish line in the picture below. Months or years of difficult and sometimes painful training lead up to the day of the big race.

Larry Brauner Completes His Second New York City Marathon in November, 1985The social media marathon requires commitment, persistence and lots of patience, the type of mental endurance needed to complete a 26.2 mile race.

When I wrote Social Media One Bite at a Time back in March, I emphasized the importance of motivation and focus.

In the present article, I’m suggesting that you adopt the mindset of a marathoner. Commit to do whatever is necessary to succeed, and pace yourself, so that you don’t injure yourself or get burned out during the process. This principle is behind most great achievements.

I love the way my running coach Bob Glover puts it, “Start off slow and taper down.” Bob’s mantra counters our natural tendency to come “out of the gate” at full speed and keep running — our human egos at work.

How does all this translate into long-term social media success?

Marathoner Mindset

Here are seven ideas to help you develop the mindset of a marathoner:

  1. Make a serious commitment to do whatever is required to attain your social media or web marketing goals. This is an absolute prerequisite.
  2. Find your “Bob Glover.” I had more than one coach on my way to becoming a chess champion and teachers to help me learn cello and Talmud. I have mentors now and plan to have more mentors in the future. Get yourself a mentor. As I now like to say, “The ultimate shortcut is doing it right the first time.”
  3. Don’t wait until the conditions are perfect for launching your campaign. I’ll always remember what I heard Mike Litman say, “You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going”.
  4. Join one networking site at a time and take time to master it. Social networking sites can be intimidating at first. Learn a new feature, practice it, and go on to the next.
  5. Start out blogging once a week. It’s hard to begin, especially if, like me, you’re not a professional writer. You can increase your posting frequency later.
  6. Realize that there’s a steep social media learning curve. Do not quit. So many people join Twitter or Facebook or begin blogging and quit shortly thereafter. They expected to sprint a 100-yard* dash, not to run a marathon.
  7. Don’t forget about the “social” in social media. Get to know a lot of people and have a blast!

I invite you to subscribe to this blog and to share your ideas below.

*A unit of length equal to 0.9144 meters, something that even our British friends across the pond can find quaint.

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This is my final blog post for 2008. I have enjoyed our interaction this past year.

Thank you. I learned a lot.

I look forward to more give and take in 2009.

Thinking Outside the Box

In 10 Not Simple Success Strategies for 2009 I stated, “What worked in the past may no longer work in the present economy. You may have to make some tough personal or business choices going forward.”

Thinking Outside the BoxTo succeed in 2009 we need to be flexible and to think outside the box. According to Wikipedia, thinking outside the box is “to think differently, unconventionally, from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel, creative and smart thinking“.

I hope to help you think outside the box and navigate through some of the challenges and choices that lie ahead.

If you don’t yet subscribe to this blog, I ask you to subscribe now. Let’s stay “on the same page” as I continue to publish thought-provoking and hopefully outside-the-box articles on a broad range of topics.

Networking Outside the Box

If you are not yet a member of Critical Thinking Outside the Box, my no-spam online social network, please join now. This social networking site is a place where you and I can share ideas and network with each other.

Set up your profile there and add me as a friend. That way you can contact me whenever you wish.

By starting discussions and participating in existing discussions on the forum, you’ll brand yourself as a leader. If you’d like to become a featured leader on the site and have me promote you there, send me a message and we’ll discuss the details.

Marketing Outside the Box

Online social networking and social media marketing are still very much in their infancy. We’ll see plenty of growth and change in 2009 and beyond. To market outside the box you’ll need to keep abreast of online and social marketing changes, and you’ll need to keep learning new skills.

Affiliate University Marketing TrainingOne excellent training and support program that I highly recommend to learn and implement new marketing ideas is Affiliate University.

Founder Bill Hibbler is a successful Internet marketer and an excellent instructor. Bill along with Dr. Joe Vitale is co-author of Meet and Grow Rich: How to Easily Create and Operate Your Own “Mastermind” Group for Health, Wealth, and More.

The Affiliate University training program has ten modules, and more will be added in the future.

Additionally, I’m starting a marketing clinic to complement the Affiliate University curriculum and help you through the rough spots as you put what you learn to use.

Achieving Outside the Box

Setting and following through on goals require ongoing support from peers. Mastermind groups provide that support and have long been known to increase focus and speed movement towards achieving objectives.

Affiliate University will start you on the path to forming a mastermind group. After teaching you the basic concepts and mechanics of mastermind groups, their forum will help you connect with prospective members for your group. I will help too.

If you believe that you can benefit from one-on-one mentoring, I offer special consulting rates for my “inner circle”. See the bio and endorsements on my about page for information about my qualifications.

As usual, feel free to comment on this blog post or ask questions… And let’s have a great year!

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More Critical Success Factors

This time last year I posted on my blog 10 Simple Success Strategies for 2008. My strategies for 2009 are net very simple, or in any case, they’re not easy.

We were already aware that the mortgage crisis would badly hurt American home owners and the real estate industry, but few people realized that the crisis would quickly snowball into a major global recession.

While I stand by last years recommendations and believe that they are valid today, I feel that I need to add new critical success factors to the mix for 2009.

  1. Be flexible. What worked in the past may no longer work in the present economy. You may have to make some tough personal or business choices going forward.
  2. Focus on your finances. Spend less. Earn more, even if it’s difficult, and even if you have to compromise and do something that’s less than perfect for you. Pay down your credit cards, even if you have to sell some belongings. That’s the advice Dave Ramsey gives in his excellent book, The Total Money Makeover.
  3. Be cautious and use common sense. I hate to sound like a broken phonograph record, but while it is important to earn more, don’t fall prey to someone else’s hedge against recession. Before you invest substantial time or money, read Home Based Businesses Don’t Work and The Darker Side of Funded Proposals.
  4. Persevere. I noticed this year how many people failed to follow through on important plans and prematurely abandoned their blogs and social media projects they had started. Perhaps in some of the cases they should have done more soul searching beforehand, but on the whole I think people get frustrated and quit before their work has a chance to bear fruit. If you think you might lack motivation or need encouragement, create a support system for yourself or work closely with a mentor to whom you can be accountable.
  5. Reach out multiple ways. Network with people online and offline using online business and social networking sites and your local Small Business Association, Chamber of Commerce or BNI. Besides my new social networking site and other Ning social networking sites, I strongly recommend Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Connect to me at all these sites and let me know how I might be able to help you. It might be useful to you to visit Social Networking vs. Advertising, especially if you have never before seen that post.
  6. Develop expertise that will serve you now and in the future. In The 80/20 Rule I wrote, “Expertise is a valuable asset when it comes to personal branding. As an expert you can teach and mentor others and differentiate yourself from your competition.” I went on to explain that with a medium amount of reading, studying and experimentation, you can learn more about a subject than 80% of other people.
  7. Smile and laugh as much as you can. Laughter is good for you and for the people around you.
  8. Prepare not only for the recession, but also for afterward. These tough economic times won’t last forever. Think how you might be able to position yourself down the road to profit from the many new possibilities which will emerge in a couple of years.
  9. Keep the faith. No matter how hard life gets, don’t give up hope. Persist as best you can and be ready to start over. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities.
  10. Subscribe to my blog if you’re not yet a subscriber. I have a lot planned, and we can face 2009 together.

Now it’s your turn to share your ideas. Please feel free to comment.

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A Brief Historical Note

I’m old enough to remember when the norm in the America was to work 40 years for a corporation and retire at age 65 with Social Security benefits and a company pension. I grew up with such an expectation.

Technology and economics reshaped the workplace during the last part of the 20th century, and nowadays people will necessarily change jobs a number of times during their careers and receive little or no employer help along the way meeting their long term financial objectives.

Employment relationships are severed with little reluctance by either party. Employees have become a commodity. Both job security and employee loyalty are very much relics of the past.

It is certainly difficult to assert that business is risky but that jobs are risk free, especially during troubled financial times like these. People in all sectors of the economy are losing their jobs, and unemployment will get much worse before it gets any better.

Robert Kiyosaki Revisited

Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad and Cashflow Quadrant, compares four different ways to generate income:

  1. Job - You work for an employer. You earn income by selling your limited time. You’re overtaxed by the government. You may however acquire valuable skills and receive access to affordable health insurance.
  2. Self-Employment - You own your job and must work very hard. You receive tax breaks but still earn your income by selling your limited time. You pay in full for your health insurance. You have some autonomy but must nevertheless satisfy your clients’ demands.
  3. Business - You own a system, and you leverage other people’s time and various resources at your disposal such as the Internet. You work hard, but you essentially earn your income by selling other people’s time. Since you’re not selling your limited time, your income potential is unlimited. Many types of business are very risky, but there are others that are not very risky at all. Businesses have many tax advantages.
  4. Investing - You own assets that are called investments. You earn income from these investments. Knowledgeable investors use insurance such as stock options to manage and eliminate the risk of investing. They also achieve the most favorable tax treatment for their income.

Where Theory and Practice Intersect

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that business and investing income are much superior to job and self-employment income — all other things being equal — and having a business and investing mindset is a wonderful personal asset.

Yet there’s a catch.

Most people are not in a position initially to rely either on business or investing to provide the income that they need for life’s basics. Some people may not have the wherewithal now or ever to make a business or investing work for them.

Jobs or self-employment provide immediate income for food, clothing and shelter. In that sense they can be a good thing.

If you have a job and the right mindset, you can use the base of income afforded by your job as a springboard to future business and investing. You’ll seek ways to develop new business, and you’ll use part of your paycheck and business proceeds to buy income producing assets.

Your progress might be slow at first, but it will accelerate over time as your results are compounded.

My Change of Heart

I used to put down jobs saying that J.O.B. stood for “just over broke”. While there’s much truth in that, I believe today that I was stuck in all-or-nothing thinking.

So don’t you think job or business. Think job and business, or whatever makes sense.

Your comments and input are invited.

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Stacey Chadwell once asked me, How do you maintain focus?

On this first anniversary of my Online Social Networking blog, Stacey’s question caused me to think and take stock.

I imagine that many blogs launched last year have long since been abandoned. How is it that I maintained my focus over the past year while many other new bloggers did not?

It has been suggested that FOCUS stands for “follow one course until successful”.

While this representation is simplistic, it is nevertheless more true than not. To accomplish something substantial, some degree of obsession and narrow focus is a prerequisite for success.

Revisiting the Ultimate Success Secret

As I indicated in Critical Success Factors, I take my cue from The Ultimate Secret to Getting Absolutely Everything You Want by Mike Hernacki in which he wrote:

“In order to accomplish something, you must know what you want and be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish it.”

In other words, focus arises from intention and is maintained through commitment.

This principle is the key to sustaining focus and achieving eventual success.

To demonstrate my commitment, I was willing to:

  • blog for months before seeing tangible results
  • ignore doubts expressed by friends and family
  • read books about blogging and search engine optimization
  • mastermind with other bloggers to get their opinions
  • experiment, learn from my mistakes and backtrack as needed
  • put some of my other objectives on hold

Today I have more than 100 regular readers and receive thousands of visitors to my blog each month. My articles have been featured on top news sites.

I have a Google PageRank of 3 and high search engine rankings for lots of keywords that I researched and targeted.

I was willing to do what many others were not and was able to maintain my focus throughout the year.

Planning the Next Year

During the next twelve months I would like to take my blog to the next level, for sure.

However, I plan to apply the same kind of commitment and narrow focus to new projects such as developing my new Ning social networking site and mastering the intricacies of web analytics.

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This post is somewhat longer than usual. Sorry for that, but I put a lot of work into it. I hope you like it.

Last Wednesday during my regular bi-weekly business mentoring tele-conference I revealed several powerful business success secrets.

While I was specifically addressing entrepreneurs, small business owners and sales professionals, these principles apply to all people and to all areas of our lives, not only business success.

Have you noticed? The year 2008 is half over.

Near the end of 2007 I posted Personal Development: 10 Simple Success Strategies to “help turbo charge your personal development in the New Year”. This may be worth re-reading if some of your goals and objectives have lost much of their earlier inertia.

Commitment

What are you committed to?

Mike Hernacki in The Ultimate Secret to Getting Absolutely Everything You Want wrote:

“In order to accomplish something, you must know what you want and be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish it.”

It sounds too simple, doesn’t it? However, it is your intention and commitment that set The Law of Attraction into motion on your behalf.

Want proof?

Reflect back on your most important accomplishments, such as raising a child, getting a college degree, running a marathon, starting a business, or developing an Internet presence, and you’ll agree that your commitment to your success was absolute.

It wasn’t that you felt obligated. Rather you felt that the goal was extremely important to you, and that you would deal with any obstacle that might arise — without knowing in advance exactly what would be demanded of you on your way to success.

Without total commitment The Law of Attraction would have probably delivered an obstacle that you would not have been willing to handle, and you would have failed.

This success secret is so important that I’ve read Mike Hernacki’s timeless book about a dozen times over the past decade.

Acquiring New Skills

I am commited to ongoing personal development and acquisition of new knowledge and skills. I read mind expanding books, blogs and e-books.

Your objective may require the mastery of new skills – or it may not. Your willingness to do what it takes is what really matters. If new skills are required, then you must be ready and willing to learn them.

Working Hard

You may be required to apply a great amount of effort. When I wanted to run the New York Marathon in 1984, strenuous preparation was absolutely necessary. In 1985 that was still true but to a lesser extent, since I had maintained a high level of fitness in the interim.

Tenacity and Persistence

Let’s bring this home.

You want to develop a presence at one of your favorite social networking sites – or you want to write a blog – or you want to build an Internet presence. These objectives usually require a high degree of tenacity.

So often people abandon online social networking, blogging or social media optimization without realizing their objectives. They weren’t willing to persist. Perhaps their belief system was weak.

I have been social networking online for many years. I have continuously posted to this blog for nearly eight months.

Why?

I know what I want, and I’m willing to persist until I achieve it.

Belief

As I stated in Personal Development: The Law of Belief, “Our motivation and how we act is determined by our underlying beliefs.

“If we don’t believe that something is possible, we won’t even try to make it happen. Please listen to a conference call I recorded on 8/22/07 that illustrates this concept.”

A healthy belief system is critical to success in business and life.

Treat Your Business Like a Business

Production

Showing up counts for something, but it doesn’t count for enough.

Success in business and life depends on producing value either directly or indirectly through people you influence.

If you have a job and don’t produce, you won’t get very far, and sooner or later you won’t have a job.

If you have a business and don’t produce, you won’t have money in the bank.

If you don’t come through for people, you won’t have their friendship.

You must make a positive contribution in order to be successful.

One way to ensure that you’re productive is to set daily or weekly goals or benchmarks.

For example, let’s suppose you’re in sales. You need to make six product sales per month to meet your business objectives. In order to make six sales, you need to make 15 presentations. To get 15 appointments, you’ll need to speak to 60 people.

You work about 20 days per month. On average you will have to speak to three people per day in order to speak to 60 per month.

Your benchmark or goal becomes three a day. If you focus on 3+ per day with consistency, you will likely make your six product sales per month.

You’ve succeeded at breaking down your abstract monthly goal into concrete daily actions.

Diversification

Big corporations employ a wide variety of media and messages to bring their product to market. They advertise on television, radio, in print and through direct mail. They experiment with many versions of their ad copy.

You cannot do everything a giant company can do, but why not learn from their example?

If you use half a dozen methods to reach out to your potential clients, you’ll enjoy these benefits:

  • You’ll achieve success with some approaches, even if others fail.
  • You’ll attract a wider variety of clients than using a single method.
  • You’ll be able to see which methods perform better relative to each other, so that you can refine your marketing plan.
  • You’ll lower your overall risk through diversification.

Here are some of my favorite marketing channels:

Over time you’ll develop your own favorite marketing channels if you haven’t already done so.

Tracking and Analysis

If you want to make informed business decisions, you must track your results and analyze your data. If you can’t do it yourself, then you must get an expert to do it for you or show you how to do it.

Tracking and analysis are not something optional.

Let me ask you, would you even consider driving your car with your eyes shut?

You can’t afford to run your business with your eyes shut or even partially covered.

Cost per Acquisition

One of the most basic marketing measurements is cost per acquisition, the amount that you’re spending on average to complete a sale using each marketing method. Simply put, it’s the total spend divided by the total number of sales.

It is important to consider your staff costs including your own time, not just the out-of-pocket expenditures for design and media.

Cost per acquisition is an excellent way to compare marketing channels, but there is one very important caveat. Customers from one marketing channel may be more valuable than from another. Therefore marketers must take into account customer long term value, the other side of the equation.

Customer Long Term Value

Customer long term value can be difficult to calculate, but it is generally approximated as the income you expect to earn from a customer over a 12 to 24 month period. If your business is on the risky side, lean towards 12 months. If it is very stable, then 24 months may be appropriate.

To be successful, cost per acquisition cannot exceed customer long term value. It ought to be less.

Trend Data

You can also track your performance or the performance of your staff. Trending performance data and marketing data over time will help you see the bigger picture.

Masterminding and Mentoring

As stated in my post Even Mentors Need Mentors, “I learn from reading many books, e-books and blogs, and from speaking frequently with friends and mentors. Having mentors has greatly shortened my learning curve.”

Masterminding with your peers and seeking out mentors will help you as much or more than any other single strategy mentioned in this article.

Please feel free to comment and share those strategies that have made the biggest difference in your business and personal endeavors.

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I promised in my recent post on The Law of Belief that you would hear more from me on the subject of changing beliefs. I said that I would discuss replacing disempowering beliefs with empowering ones.

I’m not ready for a broad treatment of the subject. However, after Robin’s touching comment I feel compelled to write something more without delay.

Robin’s words inspired me to pick up and re-read one of my favorite books, The Ultimate Secret to Getting Absolutely Everything You Want, written by Mike Hernacki in 1982.

What is “the ultimate secret”?

Know what you want and be willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish it.

This is called intention. It is tied in with commitment and is one of the critical success factors.

Please, don’t say “duh” or tell me it’s merely a matter of semantics.

Most people have difficulty with either the “know what you want” part or the “be willing to do whatever it takes” part of the principle, and Hernacki’s book addresses this difficulty. The book also explains how the Law of Attraction comes into play.

The Ultimate Secret has been in and out of print a number of times since its publication in 1982. I suggest you buy it now while it’s available. Over the years I have repeatedly bought and given away copies of this book to my friends. I read it myself over and over again and grow from it each time I do so.

In connection with Robin’s remarks, I want to focus on the “willing” part of the formula.

Mick Hernacki says that we must have a sense or a belief from the outset that we will be able to handle anything that comes our way — “whatever it takes”. All accomplishment stems from this particular form of belief even if we’re not consciously aware of it.

Here’s the good news as I see it.

We don’t have to line up all our beliefs like ducks in a row to be successful. the only belief we need to succeed at something is the belief that we can handle whatever challenge that might arise with respect to that one objective. One empowering belief can bring enormous success even if our overall belief system is far from perfect in other respects.

When I prepared to run the New York City Marathon in 1984 and 1985, I knew precisely what I wanted — to complete the marathon.

I assure you that I didn’t have my act together at all. However, I did have confidence that I’d be able to overcome all obstacles — discouragement from friends, athletic injuries, rain, snow, cold weather, hot weather, lack of sleep, and whatever would come my way.

I did just that.

I even dealt with severe leg cramps both years towards the end of the race.

What a wonderful accomplishment this was! I even have a picture from 1985 which I may very well scan some day and post online for my readers to gawk at.

So my advice to you is to know what you want. Be passionate about it. Be open-minded too. And believe that you will handle whatever challenges lie in your path. Your eventual success is assured.

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